If you don’t know already, we’re full-time English Teachers.
We were hired through a private school in a small town in Japan, so things are a little bit different for us than for someone hired through a public government program. Sometimes, to thank us for working hard and being a part of the program, our employers take us out on different fun excursions.
This month, they decided to take us to a place that all of my students dream of visiting: Hawaiians Spa Resort.
What is Hawaiians?
Hawaiians is a resort and spa that was opened in the 1960’s in an effort to provide jobs for people that were struggling after the coal industry declined. There’s a long history behind the park, and even after the March 2011 disaster, it remained strong, and after helping with various relief programs, reopened with the addition of a Monolith Tower Hotel.
The Resort is open year round with an indoor waterpark, beautiful hot spring pools, a giant shopping center, and restaurants ranging from fast food to expensive 5 Star Dining – there’s really something for everyone.
Our Hawaiians Experience:
We were extremely blessed because our employers paid for every expense at Hawaiians except for water slide tickets and any souvenirs we wanted to buy. In fact, that’s what has made talking about Hawaiians so difficult for me.
I never want to come across as ungrateful or spoiled – especially when they paid for our entire team (12 people!). But for someone like me who just wanted to go swimming, Hawaiians just wasn’t that great.
Here are seven things that stuck out to me after visiting Hawaiians Spa Resort:
1. The Water Park isn’t that Big:
The first thing I noticed was that Hawaiians is a HUGE complex – but after a closer look, I realized most of that space is comprised of three ginormous hotels (like one designed after a Snow White Luxury Liner), banquet and meeting halls, and a ton of shopping centers.
There are also a few spas on site that offer various beauty treatments, and in comparison to the entire complex, the actual water park portion is very small.
Even with three indoor slides, a lazy river, and a few outdoor pools, it felt a bit cramped to me.
2. À La Carte Fun:
Maybe it’s because I’ve been spoiled by American water parks that include everything in the admission price, but I was really surprised (and a little annoyed) to find out that the price of admission only covers the onsen (hot spring baths), unreserved seating for the hula show, and access to the indoor and outdoor pool areas.
We ended up paying for six rides on any of the three water slides, which came to ¥2,000 per person. That’s about 40 USD total.
An unlimited pass costs more, but I can’t imagine riding those same three slides over and over again for a full day.
3. So. Many. PEOPLE:
There’s nothing I hate more than a crowded public pool, and that’s exactly what we found at Hawaiians.
Not only was it incredibly hot (it felt like a greenhouse for people), but there were so many people in the “lazy river” that we didn’t even try to swim in it. We got in the main pool for about 5 minutes before jumping ship and escaping from the mass of people swimming, and yes, even playing volleyball in the water.
There also wasn’t a place to sit down and relax by the pool, so our choices were to either get in the pool, ride down a slide, or go back to the building with designated sitting areas (it was separate from the water park).
4. It was difficult to navigate:
According to the website, there’s an outdoor pool area that looks more open, but we couldn’t find it!
Because it’s such a huge complex, we were never really sure where we were going, and where stairwells would bring us. I think we could have found it if we had more time, but we had to meet up with our group for lunch.
5. The lunch buffet was “so-so,” but the hula show was fun!
We were treated to the lunch buffet right near the indoor water slides and pool, and while everything tasted okay, it was just that – okay.
We weren’t really impressed with anything they had there, although the chocolate fountain with marshmallows was delicious! I can’t say anything about the other dining options, but they did have Dippin’ Dots, and other fast food items that are probably more affordable and just as good as what we got. I read that Hawaiians does have different kaiseki sets (traditional multi-course meals), but they can get pretty pricey.
After lunch we had some time to relax and swim, and then the hula show began. This was another perk from our employers, and we enjoyed front row seats to the show.
Watching the hula show was enjoyable, even though it was stifling hot in that room. The hula girls were beautiful and shook their hips like their lives depended on it. They even let the kids and other audience members come up on the stage and “learn” a short hula routine! I went up and made a fool of myself because well…let’s just say that rhythm is not my strong point.
Overall, the hula show was the highlight of the day for me.
6. The Onsen:
There were two different onsen options – one that was co-ed (bathing suits required), and one that was separated by gender.
Like the pool, the co-ed onsen was packed, but the separate onsen wasn’t terrible. It wasn’t the best bath I’ve been to, but it did have a really nice sauna, and a great outdoor bath. The locker room, on the other hand, was very cramped and a little bit hectic.
They did have nice washing/shower stations, which I’ve discovered are only at spa resorts like this one. Other more traditional onsens do not.
Overall, I’m glad that we didn’t have to pay extra for the onsen, and enjoyed a good soak after lunch.
7. We missed out:
While we were at Hawaiians, we kept seeing pictures of huge outdoor water slides, and once we started looking for them, we realized that they weren’t opened yet! We had missed them by about a month.
I also think that because we only stayed a day, and had a very limited budget, we weren’t able to get the full Hawaiians experience.
So, would you recommend Hawaiians?
Caleb and I talked a lot about whether or not we enjoyed Hawaiians, and we came to the conclusion that if you were a Japanese person who had never visited an American water park, you’d be blown away.
I think what it comes down to is your “why.”
If you’re coming to Hawaiians to swim and go down water slides, it might not be the place for you – especially if you have a family, and you want to stay the whole day.
However, if you’re more into spa/beauty treatments and shopping, this is definitely a place you want to check out while in Fukushima.
I guess the name really gives away the focus – Hawaiians Spa Resort – and should have been our first clue as to what we were in for.
Hawaiians Visiting Information:
Hours: 9 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.
|Full Day||Entry after 3 p.m.||Entry after 6 p.m.|
|3240 yen||2730 yen||2530 yen|
Hula Show Information:
|Daytime Show||Evening Show||Reserved Seating|
|1:30 – 2:15 p.m.||8:30 – 9:30 p.m.||Between 720 – 1200 yen|